Cengicaña celebrates 30 years of contributing to the development of the country

Cengicana 30 anniversary - Azúcar de Guatemala

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Guatemalan Center for Research and Training of Sugar Cane -Cengicaña-, a union organization that with its work has contributed to the growth, development, and competitiveness of the Sugar Industry.

With a long-term vision, Cengicaña was founded in 1992 by the member sugar mills of the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association -Asazgua-, as a research center that generates knowledge and technology transfer for the agricultural and industrial equipment of the associated mills.

Cengicaña supports the sustainable and profitable development of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry through five programs:

  • Variety development
  • Integrated pest management
  • Agronomy
  • Industrial research and,
  • training and transfer

The CG02-163 sugarcane variety leads the Guatemalan Sugar IndustryIn these 30 years, Cengicaña has developed 33 Guatemalan sugarcane varieties that have higher yields, are more resistant to diseases and are also adaptable to the varied environmental conditions of the Guatemalan sugarcane zone. These varieties developed by Guatemalan experts currently occupy 60% of the cultivated area under management. The CG02-163 variety ranks first in extension and yield.

Technologies and methodologies have also been developed for the Integrated Management of Pests that attack sugarcane cultivation, such as the Salivosa Bug, Borer and Rodents, among others.

Through the agronomy program, the use of technologies for plant fertilization and nutrition, irrigation and precision agriculture is developed and exploited using data, maps and satellite images to analyze soil types, water balance, agroecological zones for strategic location of varieties, fertility and productivity analysis, as well as pest mapping.

Smart irrigation system - Azúcar de GuatemalaExperts from Cengicaña developed CengiRiegos, an application that uses information to apply to the crop only the amount of water it needs, which has made it possible to optimize the use of water and costs for irrigation. Currently, this application is used in 35% of the cultivated area with efficient irrigation systems.

Cengicaña has also innovated in industrial research to achieve a reduction in the loss of sucrose and to obtain efficiency in the generation of renewable energy, a factor that has supported the Guatemalan Sugar Industry to generate up to 30% of the country’s electricity demand.

The training and transfer program has had more than 5,500 training events with which it has reached more than 137,000 employees of the Sugar Industry. In addition, it has developed events to share the technology developed with the sugar mills through symposiums, specialized committees and technical events with field trips and participation in congresses.

With this 30-year work, Cengicaña has received important recognitions such as the Ulises Rojas Order, the Sugar Order and recognitions from universities, among others.

We congratulate Cengicaña for its 30th anniversary and the leaders who had the vision to anticipate the challenges to seek the competitiveness and sustainability of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry.

Hydrometric station measures the flow of river in Guatemala

The Ocosito River has the first hydrometric station in the basin.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry is committed to the care and conservation of the environment, and is part of the Ocosito river Basin Technical Committee, and gave support to the installation of a Hydrometric Station to measure the flow of the Ocosito River.

The Technical Committee took a tour to verify progress in flow measurement, user coordination, and reforestation. The Guatemalan Sugar Industry is member of these committee since 2016.

The Ocosito River has the first hydrometric station in the basin. This is a device with sensors that automatically records the flow of the river, which allows knowing if the flow is low or very high, allowing communities in the lower part to be alerted to the risk of flooding.

Technical Committee promotes conservation of the Ocosito river basin

The Ocosito River has the first hydrometric station in the basin. The members of the Ocosito Technical Committee; included the Guatemalan Sugar Industry have promoted a program for the restoration and conservation of the basin through reforestation for the creation of gallery forests, among other modalities, which contribute to forest restoration. Since 2016, communities, local organizations, companies such as El Pilar, Magdalena, and Palo Gordo sugar mills Agroaceites, Grupo Hame, that have planted more than 102 hectares with native trees to create gallery forests on the riverbanks, mangrove restoration and productive forests, with the support of the National Institute of Forests -INAB-, Rainforest Alliance and the Private Institute for Research on Climate Change -ICC-.

Through the Technical Committee, the coordination of water users has been achieved, something that historically had not existed and that has made it possible to optimize the use of water in production processes and coordinate with communities. Currently, with the support of the United Nations Development Program -UNDP- and MARN, a management plan for this basin is being developed.

These actions have allowed great advances in water management, which are reflected in the fact that the Ocosito River has achieved its flow to its mouth during the last 5 years, improving conditions with a more rational use.

The Ocosito River has the first hydrometric station in the basin. The technical committee was born in 2016 out of the need to organize and make rational use of water. In 2021, promoted by the Vice Ministry of Water, through Government Agreement 19-2021, it was institutionalized as a more comprehensive technical organization for the recovery and conservation of the Ocosito basin.

The conservation of the basin faces several challenges, such as:

  • The contamination of the hydric resource; for example, the garbage in the rivers.
  • Climate change
  • Plans for the proper management and conservation of water and other natural resources
  • Work with a comprehensive approach to the conservation of the basin.

Water management is a challenge for Guatemala and for humanity, which requires the integration of the sectors that are part of society.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry actively participates in the UN Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions Network

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry actively participates in the UN Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions Network

In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The agenda establishes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a total of 169 goals and 230 related global indicators designed to stimulate concrete actions until 2030.

In order to comply with the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, in 2018 the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs created the Global Network for Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions with links between the sustainable development goals -ODS- number 6 (water and sanitation) and number 7 (Ensuring access to sustainable, reliable and modern energy for all) with multiple stakeholders from all regions including Guatemala with the participation of the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association -Asazgua- (https://www.un.org/en/water-energy-network/page/members).

The 2030 Agenda proposes that, in order to achieve Sustainable Development, it is important not only to include the economic, social and environmental axes but to go a little further, and that is why the agenda proposes five fundamental dimensions on which to base it: people, planet, prosperity, peace and alliances. These dimensions are present in its objectives and goals, which work in an integrated and indivisible way to address the challenges in a global way and so that they can be applied universally, always with an objective vision of the different realities, capacities and levels of development of actors at the national, regional or local level, as well as at the business, academic or social level.

The Global Network for Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions, works with the vision of a world in which there is an equitable and sustainable use and management of water and energy resources for all, in support of human well-being, the integrity of ecosystems and a strong and inclusive economy under the umbrella of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The objective of the Network is to provide a global platform for all stakeholders to improve their capacities and signal their high-level commitment to the integrated approach of SDG6 and SDG7 to support the implementation of the SDGs by fulfilling the call of the Secretary General of the United Nations to mobilize at all levels, global, local, and social. For this reason, Asazgua has taken the initiative and, as always, has taken a step forward working hand in hand with the Network to share its experiences and the projects developed.

For this reason, a series of activities and publications have been carried out to create spaces for dialogue to share best practices and experiences on water-energy interrelationships and their contributions to other SDGs and reinforce capacity building, focusing on planning, the design, implementation and monitoring of policies, regulations, business models and investments to effectively manage the interlinkages between water and energy.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has forced us to make unforeseen changes in our lives, but it has given us the opportunity to analyze the need to improve and share knowledge and experiences, since the time to act is now, which is why the actions of the Network have not stopped and have been carried out virtually. Below, we present the main activities in which the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association has participated.

On September 24th, 2021, a side event on the “Energy Pact of the Global Network for Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions” was held in the framework of the High-Level Dialogue on Energy. This event showcased the three participating organizations of the Network with voluntary commitments: The Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association –Asazgua, – Itaipu Binacional and Canal de Isabel II, which was presented by the Under Secretary of the United Nations Mr. Liu Zhenmin. During the event, the commitments of the three institutions were presented and discussed and they explained how they support the transformative paths in energy and water and expanded actions supporting the objectives to face climate change.

Months ago, in June, the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association and the Spanish water company of the Community of Madrid, Canal de Isabel II, each undertook to expand their electricity generation to cover 100% of their electricity demand with 100% clean renewable sources by 2030.

In addition, Asazgua promised to meet at least 30% of Guatemala’s electricity demand during the three dry months of the year through renewable energy, increase ethanol production for transportation by 20%, and develop a new way of bioenergy from biowaste.

In June, the Global Network for Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions, in cooperation with its member Asazgua, brought together multiple stakeholders to discuss and showcase existing initiatives and disseminate information on bioenergy. This event was moderated by Jinlei Feng, IRENA Program Officer, and had the participation of Mr. Ivan Vera, UNDESA Advisor and a panel of experts made up of representatives of the Government of the State of Sao Paulo in Brazil, IIASA, UNICA in Brazil and Canal of Isabel II in Spain, all shared experiences on integrated water and energy solutions related to bioenergy.

Likewise, Asazgua participated in various events on sustainable water and energy solutions to address climate change during the Decade of Action. At the central event, world leaders discussed the interrelationships and interdependence of the water and energy sector and showcased existing initiatives to accelerate the adoption of integrated water and energy solutions to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

Last November during the COP26 side event: Sustainable water and energy solutions that support climate change objectives during the Decade of Action and beyond, there was participation and presentation of the Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC-.

Among the results obtained is the preparation of the report on sustainable water and energy solutions to address climate change with the collaboration of Asazgua, which aims to disseminate the debate of experts and public policies on sustainable water and energy solutions that address climate change in order to facilitate the exchange of information, improve local, national and international cooperation and stimulate collaborative development actions that “leave no one behind” in terms of water supply and sanitation, access to sustainable energy and protection against possible negative impacts of climate change. https://www.un.org/en/water-energy-network/page/new-and-events

Did you know that 248 species of birds live in forests of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry?

Bird seeing in forest within cane fields in Guatemala

The Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC- has conducted studies that count 248 distinct species of birds that inhabit forests within the cane fields of the South of Guatemala, area where the sugarcane grows. Those forests along with the roads, forests, rivers, plants, and animal life are called the “agro landscape.”

In addition, ICC researchers have identified 78 species of migratory birds, which find refuge in the agricultural landscape of sugar cane. These species travel each year from the northern hemisphere of the continent to the south.

Migratory birds travel between September and November of each year and return to North America between March and May. When they pass through Guatemala, the wooded areas of the cane fields provide them with food and shelter, thus they manage to accumulate energy to fly and continue their journey.

Plants and animal life of the Sugar Industry forests

In addition to birds, in the agro landscapes of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry, inhabit 17 families of reptiles and amphibians have also been recorded in these ecosystems; They live on land and water. Likewise, 219 species of trees have been identified, which provide food and shelter to the animal life of the South of Guatemala.

This agro landscape, and the scientific evidence compiled by experts, reaffirms the commitment of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry to be sustainable with the environment and preserve the biological diversity of the South of Guatemala.

Guatemala Sugar Industry ForestAs an example, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry carries out every year a reforestation program. The Sugar Mills have 2,507 hectares of natural forests, which are protected and cared for. These forests are part of the agricultural landscape of the South of Guatemala and benefit the conservation of biological diversity.


The Guatemalan Sugar Industry gets ready with 900 thousand trees

Tree nurseries of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry for reforestation

ThThe Guatemalan Sugar Industry and the Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC- have 900,000 trees in 63 nurseries as part of the Reforestation Plan. In the nurseries, 26 species of trees are grown, such as cedar, mahogany, eucalyptus, pine, among others.

The nurseries are in 39 municipalities in the departments of Escuintla, Sacatepequez, Santa Rosa, Chimaltenango, Jutiapa, Retalhuleu, San Marcos, Quetzaltenango, Solola and Suchitepequez.

Since 2011, the Sugar Industry has implemented the National Reforestation Plan for the recovery of forests on the South of Guatemala. In 2021, with the support of the ICC, the figure of 6.8 million trees planted was reached thanks to this program. It is expected to reach 7.7 million trees planted with the 2022 reforestation.

Importance of nurseries

Azúcar de Guatemala - Viveros para reforestacionThe nurseries in which the trees are prepared for the National Reforestation Plan are managed by municipalities, institutions, companies, and communities. These inter-institutional alliances help to promote forest culture in the communities where they are implemented.

ICC supports with seeds and supplies necessary for cultivation, as well as technical advice in conjunction with the National Institute of Forests -INAB-. The villagers provide the space for the nursery, the labor for all the daily tasks, and the land.

Guatemalan athlete will run 5,300 km across Chile to support nutritional security

Cals 4 life will support nutrition in Guatemala

The Guatemalan athlete, Daniela Andrade, will begin the journey of running 5,300 kms in Chile in the first days of March. The calories that she burns will be converted into money to promote food and nutritional security through Fundazucar’s Better Families program.

Daniela Andrade will support the Better Families program of FundazúcarOn March 1st, Daniela will return to Chile with the purpose of raising money and awareness for nutrition in Guatemala. “I am very excited to be able to unite the two things that I like, sports and social help, and I am sure that this will be the first project of many,” said Andrade.

The project Cals 4 Life will consist of crossing the South American country running from North to South, from the Atacama Desert down to Punta Arenas. The journey will last five months, and Daniela will be accompanied by a person, who will oversee driving the van that will take everything from food to the recovery equipment.

You can also collaborate

During this time, all the calories that Daniela burns will be converted into money, that is, 1 calorie will be worth 1 quetzal (USD 0.13). This project will have an international impact and anyone who wants to join can also do so. Daniela explained that the project can be supported in two ways: donation of calories and/or purchase of calories.

Through the website www.lifethrusports.org, people will be able to enter their calories burned in their physical activity for the day and, to buy many calories as they like.

Better Families ProgramAll this help will go to the Better Families program of the Sugar Foundation -Fundazucar-, which promotes Food and Nutritional Security, self-esteem, self-management, and leadership in women, as agents of change for the development and well-being of their families and their communities.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry reuses waste as organic fertilizer to conserve soil

The Guatemala Sugar Industry has relied on research and science to be more environmentally sustainable for the planting and harvesting of sugarcane. An example of this is the development and implementation of practices for the conservation and sustainable use of soil.

practicas de conservacion de suelosSince 2012, the Sugar Industry has worked hand in hand with the Guatemalan Center for Research and Training of Sugar Cane -Cengicaña- and the Private Institute for Research on Climate Change -ICC- on practices to stop or prevent erosion, conserve soil, and improve their fertility and productivity.

Reuse of waste as organic fertilizer

During the production of sugar, significant amounts of organic waste are generated as byproducts that have a high agronomic value, including filter mud, ash, and vinasse. Cengicaña scientists discovered that applying these byproducts to the soil improves its physical, chemical, and biological properties.

For example, filter mud is a residue from the manufacture of sugar and provides phosphorus, calcium, and nitrogen, among others. It is estimated that each harvest produces more than 750,000 tons of this residue that is used to nourish fields.

Vinasse is a liquid residue from the distillation of alcohol and is mainly made up of water, organic matter and minerals that benefit the soil. Just as ash, mixed with filter mud, is beneficial for acidic soils, which favors greater availability of nutrients for plants and generally improves soil health.

Green fertilizer program

Crotalaria flowerJust as they use organic fertilizers, the Sugar Industry also uses green fertilizers, an ecological measure of planting legume plants that provide the soil with nitrogen for nutrition in an ecological and environmentally friendly way.

When legumes are mixed with the soil, they provide organic matter that improves the texture and structure of the soil and promotes the development of microorganisms that are beneficial to crops.

All these good practices are promoted by Cengicaña with the aim of comprehensively using biological and organic elements that are sustainable with the environment for the cultivation of sugarcane.

Did you know that Guatemala is the second largest sugar exporter in Latin America and the fifth worldwide?

Almacen de azucar en Expogranel

According to data from the International Sugar Organization, Guatemala is the second largest sugar exporter in Latin America and the fifth worldwide. In addition, it is the third largest sugar producer in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Sugar cane varietiesResearch and development, a fundamental pillar for the Guatemalan Sugar Industry, has contributed to improve efficiency and competitiveness each harvest. The development of varieties of sugarcane is one of the great contributions of the research center, and through the natural crossing of plants, 33 varieties of Guatemalan sugarcane have been developed that are more productive, resistant to pests and climate change.

The sugar produced in Guatemala is exported to all continents and according to data from the Bank of Guatemala (Banguat) in 2020, 59% of sugar exports were destined for countries on the American continent, followed by Asia with 19%, Africa with 13%, Europe with 5% and Oceania with 4%.

Expogranel, the door to the world of the Guatemalan Sugar

For export, the Sugar Industry has one of the best specialized terminals for the shipment of sugar. Expogranel, located in Puerto Quetzal (102 km South of Guatemala City), is the specialized terminal for handling and shipping bulk sugar in Guatemala, which has positioned itself as one of the most efficient terminals in the world.

Expogranel, Guatemalan Sugar shipping terminalIt has the capacity to store 350,000 metric tons of sugar in bulk and 58,000 metric tons of sugar in bags, this added to its loading speed, compared to other countries gives Guatemala a competitive advantage.

What makes it more impressive is its current shipping rate of 2,000 metric tons of bulk sugar per hour. Before Expogranel existed, a 35 thousand metric ton ship was loaded in 30 days and today it is done in an average of 18 hours. And it has a sugar shipping capacity of more than 3,500 tons in bags per day.

Did you know that sugar cane bagasse is a source to generate renewable energy?

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry cogenerates renewable energy

To produce sugar, the juice is the raw material and the squeezed and crushed cane, called “Bagasse” is a residue, which thanks to the research has become a source of renewable energy.

The energy generation of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry is strategic for the country since it takes place during the season of cane harvest and sugar production called Zafra and begins in November and ends in May, therefore it includes the dry season when hydroelectric plants decrease its contribution to the National Interconnected System. This helps to keep energy prices stable.

Just last year, according to data from the Association of Independent Cogenerators, the contribution of the Sugar Industry represented up to 46% of the energy used by the entire country during the Zafra season.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry cogenerates renewable energyThe sugar factories are self-sufficient, this means that they produce the energy they consume, the rest they sell to the national and regional electricity market.

Each year 7.5 million tons of bagasse are used to generate this renewable energy. The Guatemalan Sugar Industry has an installed capacity of 1,020 MW for generation.

In addition, with the renewable energy produced by the Sugar Industry, more than 4 million CO2 is prevented from reaching the atmosphere each year.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry adopts actions to optimize water

Water cooling system Guatemalan Sugar

In the production of sugar, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry has implemented new technologies and processes, both in the cultivation of sugar cane and in industrial activities, to reduce its consumption of water.

Water cooling system Guatemalan SugarGuatemala is a country with high vulnerability to the effects of Climate Change and agriculture is one of the sectors most affected by climatic variations. That is why the Sugar Industry has implemented more efficient irrigation systems, which use less water and apply only the amount of the vital liquid that the plant needs.

Likewise, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry has invested in systems for the reuse of water in the sugar mills. The water used in the manufacturing process is taken to a cooling system; since it comes out at high temperature, where after being cooled it returns to the factory, through a recirculation system, to be used again.

The Water Footprint of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry

According to a study carried out by the Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC- the water footprint of the Guatemalan sugar cane crop for the 2019-2020 zafra was estimated at 110.35 m3 of water per ton of sugar cane, where the Irrigation water represented 21% of the total water footprint. Rainwater represented 73% of the total water footprint.

Guatemalan Sugar irrigation systemEach ton of sugar cane produced in Guatemala uses 47% less water than the cane produced worldwide, whose results may be related especially to the high sugar cane yields per hectare that the Guatemalan Sugar Industry has achieved.

Of the crops that are most produced worldwide, sugar cane is the one with the smallest water footprint. In addition, the  experts of the Guatemalan Sugarcane Research and Training Center -Cengicaña- have developed a mobile application to optimize the use of irrigation water in sugarcane called Cengiriegos, which allows only the water it needs to be applied to the plant.